With its crispy pork chops, peppery bite, and velvety, egg-rich cheese sauce, carbonara is as easy to make for dinner as it is at 2 a.m. after a long night out. It is one of Rome’s signature dishes, and just like cacio e pepe and other pasta recipes in that category, its simplicity requires proper technique and high-quality ingredients. Cured meat adds a salty depth to the dish, and while guanciale is the more traditional choice, cubes of pancetta or bacon also work well. Egg yolks give carbonara sauce its delicious texture and golden color, so choose farm-fresh eggs if you can. And when it comes to cheese and pasta, this is a good time to spend a little more time: buy a block of real Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano and a nice packet of spaghetti, bucatini or rigatoni.
A word on technique: To achieve the distinctive shine of a creamy sauce, adding ingredients at the right time and temperature is key to any carbonara recipe. Whisking 1/4 cup of hot pasta water into the raw egg mixture and turning off the heat before adding it to the pasta helps bring everything together into a shiny, emulsified sauce without overcooking the yolk. From there, quickly mix everything together and add more pasta cooking water to thin out the sauce as needed.
At dinner, this pasta dish is served alongside a plate of vegetables, but when you’re in the middle of an after-hours hang, just grab a fork.
(Tags for translation)pasta